"The Hard Nut" puts an edgy, gender-bending spin on the classic story.
I first saw Hansuke Yamamoto as the Bluebird in San Francisco Ballet's 2006 presentation of Sleeping Beauty. He leaped out from stage right and at such height that it sparked an audible gasp throughout the War Memorial Opera House.
It's not just the ballet companies that are producing "Nutcracker" either. In response to the work's popularity, companies presenting many other styles of dance have tried their hand at interpreting Tschaikovsky's 1892 score.
"I am experiencing a kind of crisis," Tchaikovsky wrote gloomily, after being ordered by the tzar's flunkeys to compose a ballet score for a flimsy tale centred around children, rats and a candy kingdom. After the glory of The Sleeping Beauty, the Nutcracker commission seemed like an insult.